By Liz Premo
Atlantic News, Thursday, May 30, 2002[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]
[Atlantic News Photos by Rineman/Premo]
SEACOAST — An impressive number of community members attended Memorial Day ceremonies in four Seacoast area towns Monday morning, under skies that ranged from hazy to rainy to downright beautiful.
In patriotic ceremonies that took place at Hampton Beach, Hampton Falls, North Hampton and Hampton, area veterans and other noted individuals joined American Legion and MJROTC color guards and local school and civic organizations in remembering those who gave their lives for our country.
American Legion Post #35 Commander Ralph Fatello gave the keynote address at each location, sharing his thoughts on "The Common Man Doing the Uncommon Deed." Pastor Garret Lear provided the invocation at the ceremonies, while Air Force Lt. Col. Mike McCarthy offered opening remarks and introduced those individuals participating in the proceedings.
The day's events began at 8 a.m. with Memorial Day exercises at the N.H. Marine Memorial on Hampton Beach. A good-sized crowd gathered on both sides of the street to hear Fatello speak and to witness a wreath laying ceremony, followed by a military gun salute. Winnacunnet High School students Teresa McNamara, Emily Pierce and Kim Rushforth sang the "Star Spangled Banner," while Hampton Academy Junior High School student Matt Varney performed an echoed version of "Taps." New Hampshire Gubernatorial Candidate Gordon Humphrey offered a few words toward the close of the ceremony.
At Hampton Falls, the ceremony began under blue skies with the Winnacunnet Warrior Band marching out onto the town common, along with color guards from the American Legion, MJROTC, and Boy Scoot Troop 377. The band performed "America the Beautiful" and the National Anthem prior to Fatello's speech and the laying of the wreath. Standing at attention was Vietnam Veteran Jim Covatis of Manchester, and his son Matt, a member of Boy Scout Troop 106. Covatis, who attends the Seacoast area ceremonies every year, is a great believer in teaching the young people of America the importance of Memorial Day remembrances. He told the Atlantic News, "I'm here for those who didn't come back [from Vietnam] with me."
In North Hampton, the Memorial Day parade proceeded along Lafayette Road and down Atlantic Avenue to the town office building. The event featured Hampton's mounted police unit, the North Hampton School band and chorus, Boy Scout, Girl Scout and Brownie troops, local veterans and the Warrior Band. Musical selections, the traditional wreath-laying, and the playing of "Taps" highlighted the morning's ceremony.
A 20-minute period of rain didn't dampen the enthusiasm and patriotism of those who participated in — and gathered for — Hampton's Memorial Day parade and ceremony. By the time the marchers and onlookers gathered at the Roland W. Paige Memorial Section in the High Street Cemetery, the skies Imad cleared enough for an outstand- ing view of a scheduled flyover of two A-10 Wart Hogs from Otis Air Fomce Base. Hundreds of people stood alongside members of Faith Community Church, Boy Scout, Girl Scout and Brownie troops, the Masons from St. James Lodge # 102, town officials, and veterans. Fatello's son Max, dressed in military fatigues, stood at attention, a ceremonial rifle clutched in his hands. The ceremony progressed with musical selections, including a performance of "America the Beautiful" by HAJH students Jessica None, Hannah Anderson, Brenda Shepard and Dominique Hall and the National Anthem by the Warrior band. Two trumpeters from the band performed an echoed version of "Taps." Memorial wreaths were placed by members of Hampton's Legion Post #35 and the Ladies Auxiliary.
Following the series of Memorial Day ceremonies, members of the community were invited to attend a musical performance at the North Hampton bandstand, with refreshments served by Legion Post #35.
Throughout the day's events, the community was reminded that "Freedom Isn't Free." This ideal was captured in the words of a poem which appeared on a Memorial Day banner created by students and Hampton Academy Junior High School. The poem reads:
"I watched the flag pass by one day; it fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform, with hair cut square and eyes alert.
He'd stand out in any crowd.
How many men like him had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free."